Amid the covid-19 pandemic and a deluge of fake news and unverified messages floating on various social media platforms, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur has developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered solution for instant fact checking.
Titled ‘Satyanweshi’ ('seeker of truth' in Sanskrit), the AI chatbot is programmed for finding and checking true information about covid-19.
According to Prof Swaprava Nath of the IIT Kanpur Department of computer science and engineering (CSE), it has been developed by a group of researchers and students in collaboration with an industry partner.
A chatbot is a software application to conduct an online conversation via text or text-to-speech instead of a direct contact/conversation with a live human agent.
“Following covid-19 pandemic, a massive amount of information is floating on the social media, including Whatsapp. A large part of such information is unverified, misleading or fake. However, people often trust those unverified messages,” Nath observed.
It checks several fact-checking websites when the user types in a query, and shows the results along with their ratings and the website/URLs for the sake of authenticity of information.
Satyanweshi is fed as a contact (number +1-4155238886) in the WhatsApp contact list. When the user types in a message or a question, it responds with well-searched answers. For instance, if one is unsure whether garlic cures covid-19, Satyanweshi will respond that it is a piece of fake information according to several fake news busting sites.
A beta version of this solution is already available for public use, while the Institute is now planning to release the solution in a multilingual format so that people can even check facts in other languages.
“Along with covid-19, we have been infected with an ‘infodemic’, which is bombarding us with tonnes of fake news. To help you out, we introduce Satyanweshi, your AI assistant for truth checking,” IIT Kanpur’s press communiqué mentioned.
Meanwhile, Satyanweshi (www.satyanweshi.net) is not limited to fake news checking alone. Unlike other fact-checking bots, it also provides general information regarding covid-19 from prominent knowledge sources viz. World Health Organisation (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), national health websites etc.
Besides, the knowledge-base is continuously updated with reliable knowledge sources. “We run machine learning algorithms to understand the query of the user and provide an appropriate and detailed answer,” IIT Kanpur said.
If the query is neither a fact-checking nor a general information query, then Satyanweshi provides links to news outlets or responses provided by the Google search.
Meanwhile, the fact checking solution is targetted to all the citizens of any nation, particularly those who want to get and disseminate true information in the time of pandemic. The solution will be helpful for journalists, bloggers, and social media influencers who can truth-check before writing an article.